Waking Up in Reno
is a 2002 American comedy drama film
directed by Jordan Brady
. The screenplay by Brent Briscoe and Mark
Fauser focuses on two redneck couples
taking a road trip from Little
Rock to Reno to see a
monster truck rally.
Lonnie Earl Dodd is a Little Rock car dealer who stars in his own
cheesey television commercials. He and his wife Darlene are best
friends with Roy and Candy Kirkendall, who are trying to start a
family. When the two couples decide to drive cross-country to see a
monster truck rally, Lonnie Earl pulls a new SUV off his lot and
the four set off. En route, they stop at an Amarillo, Texas restaurant where Lonnie Earl is determined to win a
free dinner by consuming a 72-ounce steak and all the trimmings
within an hour. Darlene longs to see the Grand Canyon, but Lonnie Earl insists they stick to their
schedule and refuses to fulfill her dream.
increasingly clear Darlene is living timidly in her husband's
shadow, kowtowing to his demands and accepting his verbal and
emotional abuse without complaint.
In Reno, a fortune teller tells Candy she is expecting a baby, and
she buys several home pregnancy tests
to see if she is right. She's overjoyed when all the results are
positive, but complications arise when Roy calls Doc Tuley for the
results of a fertility test
he took before
leaving home. Roy is sterile, and therefore clearly not the father
of Candy's child.
Darlene notices an uneasy glance between Lonnie Earl and Candy and
realizes the two have been having an affair. Devastated, she treats
herself to a complete and very expensive makeover and goes to see
perform, determined not to
let her insensitive husband rob her of this dream as well.
Meanwhile, Lonnie Earl is in the hotel lounge trying to make
headway with Brenda, who unbeknownst to him is a high-class hooker.
Eventually the two couples return to their suite, where they engage
in loud arguments and fisticuffs
. The following day they
discover Darlene has found the ultimate way to avenge her husband's
boorish treatment of her - she has donated the SUV he intended to
sell when they returned home to be destroyed by an enormous,
fire-breathing Robosaurus during the monster truck rally.
In an epilogue we learn Roy and Candy are the parents of three
children, the results of the fertility test having been incorrect.
Lonnie Earl and a confident Darlene are equal partners in his
business, and she has become the star of the still-cheesey ads he
continues to make.
of the Chicago Sun-Times
rated the film 1½
stars, calling it "another one of those road comedies where
Southern roots are supposed to make boring people seem colorful."
He continued, "Well, they could be, if they had anything really at
risk. But the movie is way too gentle to back them into a corner.
They're nice people whose problems are all solved with sitcom
dialogue, and the profoundly traditional screenplay makes sure that
love and family triumph in the end." He thought although "the
characters are pleasant" and "in some grudging way we are happy
that they're happy," "nothing in Waking Up in Reno
inspired me to think of its inhabitants as anything more than
markers in a screenplay."
Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles
observed, "The one thing that can be said of
Waking Up in Reno
is that it's rigorously consistent.
Every note rings false, for writers Brent Briscoe and Mark Fauser
have overlooked no stereotypes
of small-town blue-collar
speech, behavior or tastes. Because they have not drawn from life
but from a zillion other contemporary middle Americana movies and
TV shows, their characters are so many times removed from reality
that it is hard to blame director Jordan Brady for relentlessly
condescending to their characters and plot. (This picture is way
too heavy-handed to pass for satire
Sean Axmaker of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
noted "the tepid script is neither satire nor farce, and the
soap-opera twists are far too tame to spark the material. With the
low-gear direction by Jordan Brady, you might think he has some
heavy hauling to do, but the teary confessions and screechy
screaming bouts are all sound and no fury . . . This half-baked
production sat on Miramax's shelf for a couple of years. It's no
more done now than then, merely more stale."
of Rolling Stone
said the film "offers big,
fat, dumb laughs that may make you hate yourself for giving in. Ah,
what the hell. The whole cast, directed by Jordan Brady with no
restraint, is slumming . . . Thornton plays this low-ball farce
with deceptive, masterful ease. Appreciate it."
Todd McCarthy of Variety
called the film "a hillbilly romantic comedy in which the
hillbillies show up but the romance and comedy never do" and "a
real what-were-they-thinking effort." He added, "Given the complete
lack of urgency and inspiration in the material, [the] filmmakers
have tried to give their work a semblance of life by all manner of
desperate means - animated maps, jumpy editing, jokey narration and
slumber-arresting musical cues, to little avail."
The film opened in 197 theaters in the United States and Canada on
October 25, 2002. On its opening weekend it grossed $108,930, an
average of $552 per screen, and ranked #45 at the box office. It
was pulled from release after four weeks.
Miramax Home Entertainment released the Region 1 DVD on April 8,
2003. The film is in anamorphic
format with audio tracks in English and French.
Bonus features include commentary by director Jordan Brady and
screenwriters Brent Briscoe and Mark Fauser, deleted scenes with
optional commentary, and The Making of Waking Up in
- Chicago Sun-Times review
- Los Angeles Times review
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer review
- Rolling Stone review
- Variety review